The sequel to BioWare's award-winning role-playing game has been announced, and we received some details on the game at a recent press event. The game is in development at Orange County, California-based Obsidian Entertainment, a studio founded by alumni from Black Isle Studios--former publisher of and collaborator with BioWare on many of the Canadian developer's formative games, including the original Neverwinter Nights before publishing rights were transferred to Atari.
We sat down with Obsidian president Feargus Urquhart, who was understandably guarded with details. If nothing else, the studio will attempt to capitalize on the greatest strengths of the original Neverwinter Nights--a game that had both a compelling single-player campaign and powerful editing tools to create custom adventures. But Urquhart added some cryptic remarks about how his own highly experienced staff not only has worked on RPGs for years, but has also played RPGs and observed the "direction in which role-playing games have been heading." Urquhart suggested that in some cases, classic RPGs may have more compelling features than more-modern games that have perhaps gone off in divergent directions.
Urquhart also affirmed the studio's dedication to making sure the sequel will meet the high expectations of Neverwinter Nights' loyal fan community. One of the primary reasons for Obsidian and BioWare's decision to build the sequel using the same game engine, Aurora, as the original game, was to allow the fan community to continue building content for the sequel (rather than using an all-new engine that would be completely incompatible).
That's not to say that the sequel will look and play exactly the same, since Urquhart did affirm that the team plans to overhaul the graphics engine and improve the interface, especially where online multiplayer is concerned. And Obsidian isn't going it alone--the team will receive some production assistance from BioWare on the project as well.
Details are still scarce, but considering the pedigree of the developer, we won't be surprised in the least to see Neverwinter Nights end up being one of the most highly anticipated games for role-playing fans everywhere. The game is scheduled for release in 2006.